|Defence Minister André Flahaut visits troops in Macedonia and Kosovo on 28 and 29 September 2003.|
Operation "Concordia" and NSE BELUKOS XIII.
At Petrovec (Camp Shumann) near the International airport of Skopje, Macedonia, Mr. Flahaut inspected the installations and the troops involved in the first ever European Union led military operation called "Concordia". This operation aims at maintaining the stability in the ex-Yugoslav republic of Macedonia where tensions between Slav-Christians and a minority of Albanese Muslims are now under control. Belgium has been engaged in this European operation since last April and deployed a detachment of 46 men together with their 4 Agusta A109 helicopters (one Medevac configured) to form part of the Concordia Rotary Wing. This operation will end on 30 December 2003 when it is expected that the European Union will replace the actual EUFOR (400 troops of 27 nationalities) by a non-armed policing force of some 200 men. This project still needs to be approved by the 15 EU member states. Minister Flahaut also had a discussion/briefing with the actual EUFOR commander Major General Maral (Fr.) while visiting the NSE BELUKOS XIII (National Support Element) at Petrovec. This NSE (22 men) provides logistical and administrative support to all Belgian military personnel involved in operations in the Balkan.
Belgian "Concordia" base "Camp Shumann" at Petrovec from the air.
Photo DG IPR
As with all Belgian helicopters involved in operation "Concordia", Medevac configured Agusta A109HO H13 is seen wearing the European Union flag
Photo Daniel Brackx
Defence Minsiter Flahaut discussing with pilots of the 18 Bn MRH at Petrovec.
Photo Daniel Brackx
Change of Command at the Multinational brigade (North-East) (MNB(NE)) and Esc BELUKOS XIII
At Kosovska Mitrovica (North) the Belgian delegation assisted at the change of command of the Multinational brigade (North-East) (MNB(NE)) between the French generals Bertucchi and Ratel. This Brigade together with MNB's Centre, East and South-West form KFOR (a force of some 22.000 men) commanded by Italian General Mini from his headquarters situated at Pristina. The Belgian contribution to KFOR (Esc. Belukos XIII) represents some 313 Belgian and 26 Luxemburg officers and men and are up to now based at a compound called "Nothing Hill" situated at Leposavic in Northern Kosovo. The Belukos escadron is placed under operational control of the French battalion (Batfra) which herself is a sub-unit of the aforementioned (MNB(NE)). Within the framework of resolution 1244 of the Security Council of the United Nations the mission of Belukos within Batfra and (MNB(NE)) is:
- to establish and maintain a secure environment in Kosovo including public safety and order.
- to monitor, verify and if necessary impose respect of the conditions of the Technical and Military Agreement and the commitments of the UCK.
- assist the United Nations mission in Kosovo (MINUK) with the aim of insuring peace and stability in the country.
The Belgian delegation led by Defence Minister Flahaut arriving at Prestina airport aboard a French Armée de Terre Puma helicopter.
Photo Dirk Geerts
In order to rationalise the available assets it was decided that the "Nothing Hill" camp was to be abandoned and all Belgian troop are to move within the French encampment "Maréchal Leclerc" (Belvedere) situated to the South of Mitrovica. The Defence Minister took the opportunity to witness from first hand how this enormous task of moving the escadron from the actual site to the "Belvedere" camp some 30 km to the South is being executed. As usual Mr. Flahaut took ample time to discuss and support the military personnel involved.
Last updated 11/07/05 10:58 Daniel Brackx